Galesburg finds connection with Connecticut tragedy

Galesburg’s historic Second Baptist Church dates back to the Civil War era. That’s where the sanctuary shows the spirit of the season. But despite the warmth, there’s a feeling of profound sadness.

“It’s still difficult, I think, for people to really wrap their mind around this,” said Galesburg activist John Hunigan. “It’s like, how did this happen? Why did this happen?”

There’s more than 1,000 miles between Galesburg and Newtown, Connecticut, but the tragedy really hits home. Reasons behind a community meeting at the church.

“When I think of the Connecticut situation, there’s a lot of Christmas trees with presents under them that will never be opened,” said Galesburg activist Greg Vickers.

The community conversation starts at 6 Wednesday evening at the church, which is located at 305 South Cherry Street in Galesburg.

The Galesburg congregation feels a kinship with Connecticut. Both communities know what it’s like to suffer through gun violence. Both communities are searching for answers.

Nearly 100 Galesburg residents walked for peace in July 2011.

“Bullets don’t have a name,” said one participant.

That event marked one week since a Galesburg man was gunned down. He was shot near children playing in a park. More than a year later, there’s an even stronger cry for help.

“This tragedy reached beyond social issues, racial lines and denomination lines,” said Rev. Johnnie Trammell, Second Baptist Church. “It goes to the heart of who we are as human beings.”

Participants want Wednesday’s conversation to concentrate on hope and peace. They need to find a way to reach the next generation.

“I hope everyone takes peace but awareness,” Vickers concluded. “We need to wake up.”

In Galesburg, that means waking up all neighborhoods.

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